(Reuters) – A man suspected of shooting an Idaho pastor who led a prayer at a rally for U.S. Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz was arrested on Tuesday and was facing attempted murder charges, police said.
Kyle Odom, 30, was taken into custody in Washington D.C. in connection with the Sunday afternoon shooting of Pastor Tim Remington outside the Altar Church, Coeur d’Alene Police Department Chief Lee White said in a late Tuesday news conference.
Odom was apprehended by Secret Service officers after he tossed several items, including flash drives, over the fence of the White House, White said.
The items thrown by Odom were deemed non-hazardous, the U.S. Secret Service said in a statement.
The attack on the pastor is the latest in a spate of highly publicized shootings in the United States that have made gun control an issue in the presidential race.
Remington had led a prayer at a Cruz rally on Saturday and was shot by Odom, an ex-marine, the next day in the church parking lot in a preplanned attack, police said.
The senior pastor was shot six times, including in the skull, after Sunday morning service, John Padula, outreach pastor at the church told Reuters. Remington regained consciousness on Monday evening as a candlelight vigil for his recovery was underway, Padula said.
“He opened one eye and gave me a thumbs up,” Padula said, adding that Remington does not have feeling in his right arm but appears to be improving. “Without God, there is no way he’d be here.”
There is no apparent connection between the shooting and Remington’s appearance at the Cruz rally, Padula noted.
Cruz, an outspoken supporter of gun rights, could not be reached for comment on Tuesday, but a campaign spokeswoman told NBC News on Monday that they were praying for Remington’s recovery.
Odom flew from Boise, Idaho to Washington D.C., on March 7, White said. An investigation into his plans was ongoing.
The police chief, who previously said Odom had a history of mental illness, read a statement from Odom’s family saying they were thankful for his “safe apprehension.”
Local broadcaster KXLY reported that a Facebook page linked with Odom, who police said suffered from mental illness, was updated on Tuesday with a statement claiming that Remington was part of an ancient Martian civilization that ruled Earth.
(Reporting by Curtis Skinner and Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by Sara Catania, G Crosse, Kim Coghill and Michael Perry)